chpA and chpB, Escherichia coli chromosomal homologs of the pem locus responsible for stable maintenance of plasmid R100.
The pem locus is responsible for stable maintenance of plasmid R100 and consists of two genes, pemI and pemK. The pemK gene product is a growth inhibitor, while the pemI gene product is a suppressor of this inhibitory function. We found that the PemI amino acid sequence is homologous to two open reading frames from Escherichia coli called mazE and orf-83, which are located at 60 and 100 min on the chromosome, respectively. We cloned and sequenced these loci and found additional open reading frames, one downstream of each pemI homolog, both of which encode proteins homologous to PemK. The pem locus homolog at 60 min was named chpA and consists of two genes, chpAI and chpAK; the other, at 100 min, was named chpB and consists of two genes, chpBI and chpBK. The distal portion of chpBK was found to be adjacent to the ppa gene that encodes pyrophosphatase, whose map position had not been previously determined. We then demonstrated that the chpAK and chpBK genes encode growth inhibitors, while the chpAI and chpBI genes encode suppressors for the inhibitory function of the ChpAK and ChpBK proteins, respectively. These E. coli pem locus homologs may be involved in regulation of cell growth.